Ryan Sparks
Curry Coastal Pilot

The Brookings-Harbor boys basketball team lost a close, back-and-forth game to the Tillamook Cheesemakers, 61-56 Saturday night at Tillamook High School, ending their season.

Bruin senior Dexter Vaughn scored 24 points, including eight 3-pointers, and Justin Murray added 16 points in a loss that saw several late game lead changes.

BHHS found themselves down by four points early after a sluggish first quarter.

They found their game in the second quarter, however, as Vaughn's hot outside shooting and Murray's slashing drives lead the Bruins to a halftime lead at 35-32. Vaughn scored nine in the quarter while Murray added six.

BHHS extended their lead to seven points with a 6-2 run to begin the third quarter. That's when the Cheesemakers made an effort to get themselves back in the game. They stepped up their defense, which made it difficult for the Bruins to get clean looks at the basket. Tillamook outscored the Bruins 11-2 the rest of the quarter to take a 2-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The game turned into a seesaw battle down the stretch in the fourth quarter, with both teams taking the lead multiple times.

The turning point came with just under a minute-and-a-half left in the game, as the Bruin guard Jacob Vaughn's pass to forward Ronnie Manley was intercepted by Tillamook senior Matt Strang, who took it the distance for a layup, tying the score at 53-all. On the ensuing possession, Manley was manhandled by Cheesemaker Joey Hancock at mid-court, but no foul was called. After Manley hit the floor the ball was picked up by Tillamook's Zane Wright, who took it the distance and scored to take a 2-point lead with just under a minute left.

With less than 30 seconds left and the Bruins down by 2 at 55-53, Strang committed a foul on an inbound play, which sent Manley to the line for a one-and-one free-throw opportunity with a chance to tie the game. Manley missed the first free throw and Tillamook center David Waud, who scored 22 points on the night, was fouled on the rebound and made both free throws on the other end of the court, making it a 57-53 Cheesemaker lead.

Dexter Vaughn would not let the Bruins fade quietly, however, as he splashed his eighth 3-pointer of the night, tying a career high he set last week at Junction City and bringing BHHS within a point at 57-56 with 13 seconds left in the game.

It was all for naught though, as Tillamook was too strong on the free-throw line in the final seconds as Hancock and Strang drained the final four free throws of the game to seal the victory and dash the Bruins' hopes of making it to Gill Coliseum for a state championship run.

Special thanks to Kevin Bane and Rob Brown of KURY Radio for making this game coverage possible.